First Two Guitar Builds, 5 Years Later

fatdaddypreacher

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i've got a piece of rosewood that is virtually identical to this piece that will get 3 boards out of. was wondering whether or not to use it. i think i will. very very nice.
 

DaveR

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i've got a piece of rosewood that is virtually identical to this piece that will get 3 boards out of. was wondering whether or not to use it. i think i will. very very nice.
I had a hard time getting the frets to stay seated in the Morado. Not sure if it was my technique or the piece of wood. I had no such trouble with the ebony board.
 

DaveR

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I mentioned a couple posts back, that seating my name inlay with water thin CA glue caused me some trouble...

The first time I did this inlay, I clamped the neck in my vise with the fretboard approximately level and the headstock hanging down at 17 degrees. It was easy enough to work an at this angle, but I think the CA glue puddled and solidified along the top edge of the pocket. When I filled with black epoxy, it wasn't very deep. Also this one wound up with a couple of voids that I had to drop fill with super glue. Between each step I sanded the whole headstock up to 320. I also put a dink in the binding at one point and had to sand THAT out. While I was in no danger of burning through my inlay which is .060" thick, I did burn through the shallow black epoxy in a couple of spots. Didn't take any pics before I started trying to fix, but you get the idea. Around the top edge of the "R" and the holes in the "a" it was mostly clear after all that sanding. I thought I could try to just clean out some of the epoxy and fill it in, but I wound up butchering the inlay and surrounding wood picking at it with tools.
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Out came the dremal and I routed the whole thing back out, since I had an extra MOP inlay. It wasn't as clean as the first time, but I made the most of what I had to work with. Chronologically this was much later (neck was glued in the guitar, all fretwork done, electronics installed) so was very nerve wracking. Not the time to be making additional mistakes...
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This time I made sure the face of the headstock was level and only used maybe 3 drops of CA glue. Just enough to keep it from scooting around. Then I filled with tinted epoxy again.
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After filing and sanding. It looked much better the first time before I sanded through the black. That little booger at the top right of the "R" drives me nuts, and I keep thinking "I can get it if I just SAND SOME MORE". So I stopped there. We're calling it done. On my next builds I'm going to stop trying to copy the G logo anyway and do my own thing. Probably on the truss rod cover, so if you botch the inlay, toss it, no need to wreck the whole guitar.
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My mortiser/fret press. I wound up having to press a LOT harder than I expected. I'm not sure why that is. Surely this tool has ample leverage and I know lots of guys just use a drill press. I'm thinking my fret slots were a bit narrow, because I've never even tried cutting fret slots before.
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Frets are radiused, cut to length and ready to install. I didn't use the hammer. Much. Before installing the frets I went back and used my fret saw with depth stop to cut the slots to the proper radius and depth. The depth stop left some marks on the highly polished fretboard so I wound up taping the whole thing off, just to deepen the slots.
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Frets pressed in.
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Frets nipped and filed to length.
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On the Morado board, I got a little screwy with the fret saw on 21. Made the slot so sloppy it wouldn't hold the fret on the treble side. I cut a patch from an offcut of the board.
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I taped off the surrounding area and the ends of the fret slot with plastic packing tape. I glued the patch in and flooded the slot with water thin CA.
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Then I was able to re-cut the slot correctly with my fret saw. Any unsightliness of this repair is completely covered by the fret.
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No more pictures of the fretting process, but other than having to press really hard, the ebony board allowed all the frets to seat well. I tested under the edges of the frets with my smallest feeler gauge (.0015") and it only just slipped in on a few, so I gave those few another go with the fret press. I wicked water thin CA into the tang slot from the edges of the fretboard.

On the Morado board, I had no end of trouble. At least half of the frets popped up and didn't want to stay fully seated. Maybe the slots weren't as good, maybe that particular wood wasn't well suited, maybe the tang got funky on my homemade radius jig, who knows. I could clamp the fret down all the way so I knew the slots were deep enough, they just wouldn't stay down. So I taped off each fret with plastic packing tape, ran water thin CA glue along both sides of the fret and quickly clamped it down with a plastic jawed F style clamp. Left it clamped for 5-10 minutes, and then moved on to another. Since so many frets were botched, I could usually do 2 at a time, but this was a very tedious evening's worth of work. I think I wound up gluing them all like this for good measure. The tape worked wonders for keeping the glue off of the fretboard. I did have a bit of cleanup with a razor blade along each fret but it wasn't too bad.
 

DaveR

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Time for neck binding...

I nipped the frets flush to the end of the board and used a single cut file that I made "safe" by grinding the teeth off of one edge.

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I glued on the binding with medium CA glue and a bunch of tape.
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I taped the length of the board to try to protect the tops of the frets (and my block plane) from nicks. The block plane took the excess binding height down pretty quickly.
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Glued the binding on the second neck and trimmed it down as well.
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Using a chisel with part of the edge taped off to clean the binding out between the frets. This photo also shows the one inlay that didn't turn out great on this neck. I had to patch in a scrap of wood, but I didn't get as good of a grain match on this one as I would have liked. It's okay, and you really have to hunt to find it under normal circumstances. It's amazing how much sharper these iPhone pics are than my actual eyes can see.
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Chiseled the binding down until I had square nibs at each fret. I had a lot of CA glue squeeze out, especially on the ebony board. I had to scrape it off with a razor blade mostly. So much for polishing up to a mirror finish. I went back and used sandpaper from 220 on up to 1000 and scotch brite pads to clean it up. Since I only worked parallel to the neck to avoid cross grain scratches it took FOREVER, but I'm pleased with the final result. Next time, I'll tape off the top of the fingerboard before gluing on the binding.
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Drilled some holes and inserted a plastic rod with a drop of glue. Then I cut it off with wire cutters and sanded down flush. This process was super easy, I'm not sure why some people have trouble with it. Maybe I just got lucky.
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After sanding the side dots flush, I used a file along the length of the binding to add a bit of chamfer and roll the edge some. All the glue cleanup took place after this, and really helped to roll the final binding edge. Several of my friends have commented about these edges being really soft and comfortable on the hands. They're probably rolled more than a production guitar because I wound up having to overwork it so much to clean up the glue.
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Rounding out the nibs with another file that I made "safe". My "safe" tool still wanted to leave some faint marks on the board, so I taped off the entire fretboard of both guitars. Again. I think I wound up doing that a total of 4 times during the build. Given past experiences with tape leaving residue, I was reluctant to leave it on for more than a few days, and these steps of the build were accomplished in random moments of free time over several weeks.
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I think I was still working my way up through the grits in this photo, it looks a little bit "fuzzy" still.
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That's more like it. I think this one is nearly done here.
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fpatton

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Overall, I'm really pleased with how this one turned out and it set me on the path back to my guitars in a way. The complexity really upped my woodworking skills and confidence. I'm also getting faster. This project only took 3 months of nights & weekends. I still could never make money at this because I'm too slow, but that's not the point. I finished it exactly one year ago. Brought it in the house on New Year's Day 2018 if I remember correctly.
Your furniture work is inspiring. I love how the cabinet doors turned out!
Edit: I didn't mean to imply that your guitar work wasn't inspiring. Your inlay work especially is top notch! :)
 

DaveR

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Your furniture work is inspiring. I love how the cabinet doors turned out!
Edit: I didn't mean to imply that your guitar work wasn't inspiring. Your inlay work especially is top notch! :)
Thanks! Inlay takes forever, but I hope to start incorporating contrasting wood inlays into more of my furniture work.
 

DaveR

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I spent some time in a dark room with a single light source, carefully filing the neck profile to match the templates I made. Since I've played my Hamers more than any other guitar, I took a cereal box and cut out some templates that fit the neck of one of them. I used those profile templates to help shape the necks of my two builds. First with files, then with card scrapers, then with coarse sand paper on a cork lined wide sanding block, and finally with the "shoe shine" method using some sandpaper backed with duct tape.

In this photo the neck still has some pretty big shoulders.
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The volute was very interesting to carve. I was mostly going by some photos I found online and the memory of a guitar I used to own that had one. It actually came out really big, but it feels good, and others have said the same. Not quite done in this photo...
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Both necks have final shaping and are sanded up to 320 grit. You may notice the holes in the left side of the LP headstock are slightly out of whack, especially the middle one. I wound up plugging and redrilling a couple of them. I think my headstock template shifted on me when I was marking the holes in the first place.
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Finally the moment of truth came and I glued in both necks.
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After taking off the clamps, I walked around the house for nearly a week holding the guitars by the headstock and thumping the lower bout while saying "can you hear the sustaaaain?"
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Les Paul John

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Fantastic to watch these build threads. Nice cabinetry work also ... Dad did that so it’s nice to see!
 

DaveR

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We're getting towards the end of the builds and the end of what I took pictures of. I guess I just got in a big hurry at the end and stopped taking photos.

I took a few "glamorous" photos in my messy garage with a lovely vintage folding chair and my overflowing recycling bin as the backdrop. Haha.
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After drilling for the tailpiece I marked out where the bridge should go. I measured everything, but I also did the old "string it up and float the bridge underneath until the intonation is right" thing that so many here have done.
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Taped off the fretboard for probably the fourth time to level and crown the frets. I used my homemade leveling beam - a freshly jointed piece of hard rock maple with 220 grit adhesive backed sandpaper on it. It may not be DEADLY flat, but I checked it with a precision straight edge and it's flat enough for me. It may not stay that way, and I won't try to use it a long time from now without rechecking the flatness, but I'm doing this for fun, I don't need ALL the precision luthier tools. If only money was no object...
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I was not very happy with the performance of the cheaper stew mac crowning file, but this was my first attempt at any fretwork. Ever. I think with one of the diamond files (and a lot more practice) I could do a better job. If I was smarter I would have practiced refretting a few beater guitars before jumping right in on my babies, but I had to learn sometime.

After filing, I worked up through sand paper grits to 1200 then used scotch brite pads, followed by a buffing wheel on my dremel with some rouge. The first time, I managed to bang the spinning collet of the dremel on one of the frets and scratch it up. Stepped back to 320 grit paper and sanded the scratches out. Don't do that again. The final step was buffing the whole fretboard with ultra fine white scotchbrite after taking the tape off.

Overall, I'm pleased with the results. I've had a lot of people play on these two guitars and have had no complaints whatsoever about the fretwork, or anything else for that matter. I did find one spot that is buzzing just a bit on the high E about midway up the neck, but it's very subtle and I can't hear it when amplified. I'm going to wait until summertime and if it still has that trouble, maybe try to spot level that one area. We'll see.
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I used every single tool on this table (including some of the bourbon) to wire up the first of the two guitars. What a mess.
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I have a few more photos of the process to dig out, and I'm going to try to take some halfway decent photos of both guitars in their near finished states to add to this thread when I have some spare time and decent lighting.
 

Les Paul John

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We're getting towards the end of the builds and the end of what I took pictures of. I guess I just got in a big hurry at the end and stopped taking photos.

I took a few "glamorous" photos in my messy garage with a lovely vintage folding chair and my overflowing recycling bin as the backdrop. Haha.
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After drilling for the tailpiece I marked out where the bridge should go. I measured everything, but I also did the old "string it up and float the bridge underneath until the intonation is right" thing that so many here have done.
View attachment 355105

Taped off the fretboard for probably the fourth time to level and crown the frets. I used my homemade leveling beam - a freshly jointed piece of hard rock maple with 220 grit adhesive backed sandpaper on it. It may not be DEADLY flat, but I checked it with a precision straight edge and it's flat enough for me. It may not stay that way, and I won't try to use it a long time from now without rechecking the flatness, but I'm doing this for fun, I don't need ALL the precision luthier tools. If only money was no object...
View attachment 355106

I was not very happy with the performance of the cheaper stew mac crowning file, but this was my first attempt at any fretwork. Ever. I think with one of the diamond files (and a lot more practice) I could do a better job. If I was smarter I would have practiced refretting a few beater guitars before jumping right in on my babies, but I had to learn sometime.

After filing, I worked up through sand paper grits to 1200 then used scotch brite pads, followed by a buffing wheel on my dremel with some rouge. The first time, I managed to bang the spinning collet of the dremel on one of the frets and scratch it up. Stepped back to 320 grit paper and sanded the scratches out. Don't do that again. The final step was buffing the whole fretboard with ultra fine white scotchbrite after taking the tape off.

Overall, I'm pleased with the results. I've had a lot of people play on these two guitars and have had no complaints whatsoever about the fretwork, or anything else for that matter. I did find one spot that is buzzing just a bit on the high E about midway up the neck, but it's very subtle and I can't hear it when amplified. I'm going to wait until summertime and if it still has that trouble, maybe try to spot level that one area. We'll see.
View attachment 355107

I used every single tool on this table (including some of the bourbon) to wire up the first of the two guitars. What a mess.
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I have a few more photos of the process to dig out, and I'm going to try to take some halfway decent photos of both guitars in their near finished states to add to this thread when I have some spare time and decent lighting.
Sometimes I spot level with a small piece of 1000 grit paper then go behind it with a 1600 them an 8000 grit polishing pad or equivalent jewelry polishing cloth.

Most of the time a buzz isn’t very much in height differential between the level fret and the proud fret in front of it as I’m sure you know obviously. Sometimes a gentle tap will seat it enough, I don’t mean a blow from the fretting hammer. I mean using the butt end of this small driver handle... strings pulled out of the way of course!

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DaveR

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I did forget to include a very funny story from when I resorted to super gluing all of the frets down on the Morado board...

I had my bottle of water thin CA sitting on the bench. At some point I bumped it and it fell over horizontally. I quickly stood it back upright and didn't think much else about it. A few moments later I removed the cap with my left hand and applied the glue with my right. I set the open bottle down and grabbed an F clamp to clamp the fret down tight (with the glue cap still in my left hand. While tightening the clamp, I noticed a tingly sensation in my left hand. At this point I realized I was still holding the glue bottle cap. I guess when it fell over a small amount of CA collected in the cap, and then ran down into my hand while I was holding it. It didn't take much CA glue to stick the cap to my palm, cement my wedding ring firmly in place and join my first three fingers together. Nothing a little (or a lot) of acetone couldn't fix...
 

pshupe

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I've glued my fingers together a couple of times. When I got my first bottle of the water thin stuff. You do not realize how thin that stuff is until it runs down your fingers. DOAH!!

I've got a good story about some similar adhesive. I worked beside a friend of mine who got an urgent call one day. I saw him take it, drop the phone and walk quickly out the door. When he returned the next day he told me the story. His wife has bad eyesight and has eye drops to moisten her eyes and she keeps them in her purse. She also wears fake nails a lot and also has fake nail adhesive, which is like CA glue in her purse. You get where this is going... Yep, her eyes were bothering her and she reached in her purse and grabbed the bottle, of what she thought were, eye drops. After opening one eyelid and dropping the liquid in she realized that it was not eye drops but the nail adhesive and she'd glued her eye lid to her eye ball. There is no magic for this and she ended up going to emergence and they Q tipped something like acetone under her eye lid, as much as they could, to slowly release her eyelid. I bet that is something you only do once. ;-)

Cheers Peter.
 

fatdaddypreacher

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last year i didn't know i had dropped a little on my linoleum shop floor. i later went in barefooted to check something and my feet were still damp from getting out of the shower. thought i was gonna have to wear a piece of the floor to work the next day, but managed to get it off....don't know how she dealt with the eye thing, but that had to be terrible. hope she made a complete recovery.
 

dickjonesify

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I've glued my fingers together a couple of times. When I got my first bottle of the water thin stuff. You do not realize how thin that stuff is until it runs down your fingers. DOAH!!

I've got a good story about some similar adhesive. I worked beside a friend of mine who got an urgent call one day. I saw him take it, drop the phone and walk quickly out the door. When he returned the next day he told me the story. His wife has bad eyesight and has eye drops to moisten her eyes and she keeps them in her purse. She also wears fake nails a lot and also has fake nail adhesive, which is like CA glue in her purse. You get where this is going... Yep, her eyes were bothering her and she reached in her purse and grabbed the bottle, of what she thought were, eye drops. After opening one eyelid and dropping the liquid in she realized that it was not eye drops but the nail adhesive and she'd glued her eye lid to her eye ball. There is no magic for this and she ended up going to emergence and they Q tipped something like acetone under her eye lid, as much as they could, to slowly release her eyelid. I bet that is something you only do once. ;-)

Cheers Peter.
:eek2:



(^^^her)

Wow. That is just unreal :facepalm:
 

Heppe

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What a great thread! Look forward to seeing the guitars in their complete state!
 

Robert Parker

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That eyelid thing .. omg. I feel a little sick. I hope she's fine now, that can't have been pleasant :/
Yeah, that sounds awful. I accidentally gave a friend a paper cut on his eye in college
He was sitting down and I just kind of dropped the paper down to him. It caught a current from the AC and sliced right in there. He was NOT happy with me.

Dave, those are some gorgeous guitars. I see we belong to the same wiring guild. I wired up some new P90s last night, and my bench looks just like that. The bourbon would have probably come in handy, though. I ran out of Jack Daniels a couple weeks ago....
 

DaveR

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Dave, those are some gorgeous guitars. I see we belong to the same wiring guild. I wired up some new P90s last night, and my bench looks just like that. The bourbon would have probably come in handy, though. I ran out of Jack Daniels a couple weeks ago....
Thanks! I feel like my wiring turned out super sloppy on these, but since I intend to pull it all back apart for finishing, I left everything really long. Next time I’ll try to focus on tidy wiring.
 




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